Sewage installation on Hen Island
October 13, 2011

– To The Editor

To the Editor, Mayor French is attempting to legalize the installation of sewage systems for an entire community without first complying with the necessary statutory requirements including draft or environmental impact statements, engineering reports, or studies of any kind. The residents of Rye need to be informed of what the ramifications will be if composting toilets are allowed to be installed on Hen Island.

With the installation of chemical, incinerating or composting toilets, it should be noted that they are not a remedy to the current sewage pollution problem on Hen Island and in actuality, may cause more of an environmental and health problem than the present systems.

Although there are many different types of chemical, incinerating and composting toilets, the process work factors are similar and none of the systems treat gray water in any way. Therefore, if Hen Island is allowed to install composting systems, according to state codes, homeowners will have to use their present illegal systems for the handling of liquid effluents or install new systems for the treatment of gray water. Gray water, such as dishwashing residuals along with bathing and showering residuals, all produce microorganisms, pathogens and non-degradable chemicals. Gray water usage is estimated to account for up to 40 gallons per day per person.

Most notable is that all composting toilets require some type of electricity consistently for both heat elements and air flow fans used for evaporation. Many homes on Hen Island have no electricity and those that do, have solar electrical systems with limited capacity and cannot leave solar systems on when they are not in residence.

If it has been determined that if there is major problem with the compost batch in a home, the owner will have to use a process called a “major problem default sequence,” which includes transferring the compost batch to 55 gallon sealed drums and storing them for one year in the sun to meet minimum public health risks.

There is an unwritten mandate within regulatory agencies that the general population cannot be left to deal with their own excrements. These issues of sewage treatment and potable water are very delicate and in-depth issues that should be handled by professionals that have undertaken studies, visited the site, explored alternatives and come to conclusions based on scientific research and experience.

With regards to the covering of water tanks that store water for domestic use on the Island, this inappropriate fix is also being suggested to calm complaints from Rye residents particularly concerned about the many mosquito breeding sites allowed to continue on Hen Island. These mosquito-breeding sites are as a result of stored stagnant water in tanks and a general lack of maintenance on the Island.

The first requirement of any effective mosquito control program is to remove any standing water. The Board of Director’s recommendation to cover the water is not and will not be effective as the water that has been stored in horse troughs for years has been covered in the past to stop leaves and other debris from clogging the home water systems. These covers cannot stop the mosquito breeding as the inlet openings have to be open to receive incoming water. Continual water flow on Hen Island is not possible as there is no running water on the Island.

Additionally the covering of water collected from rooftops (infected with bird feces) and pumped in homes for domestic use, does not address the absence of potable water in cottages on Hen Island. Residents will still be required to wash dishes, cooking utensils and shower in bird feces infected water collected from rooftops.

Raymond J. Tartaglione,
White Plains


Post Navigation